Fake investment scam threatens PNP, public

PRESENCE of highly-irregular investment scams in the country, some of them believed being run or protected by police and government officials are threatening to disrupt the organization prompting officials to warn their men and other would-be investors to stay away from these hoax schemes or lose their hard-earned savings or loans.

Activities of these investment syndicates have been detected in different parts of Mindanao, Visayas and now Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon since last year and prompted the Philippine National Police leadership to provide tips on how to identify these scams.

Here is the basic: They promise you high returns at low or no-risk.  They give you commissions if you refer a friend. They assure you that capital is guaranteed. They claim that they have ‘strong’ track record.  They pressure you with ‘limited time-discount price offers. They impress you with outstanding testimonials. If they offer appears too good to be true. It’s not true. Thus, Think, Examine. Study.’

Last week,  Police Regional Office 12 director, Brigadier General Eliseo T. Rasco renewed his appeal to Central Mindanao residents to be wary of a fraudulent investment scam which is believed to have duped thousands  including PNP officers and men with billions of pesos worth of their hard-earned money or loans. Over the years, many policemen including those who went to United Nations missions, soldiers, teachers and other ‘risk-takers’ wanting to earn quick but very big profits have fallen prey to a number of investment scams in the country.

“Despite our warnings and public advisories in the past months, people continue to fall prey to investment scams in Region 12. These fraudulent investment schemes have been brought to our attention as early as the first quarter of this year. Many people in SOCCSKSARGEN, some of them even high ranking officials and members of the PNP, have been victimized and according to our estimates, billions of pesos have been lost to these fraudulent investment schemes. The numbers keep on rising as of this moment,” Rasco said.

The PRO12 director said  while they have been very active in trying to stop these investment scams and bring the scammers to justice, “there seems to be a lucrative market for them in our region.”

“Albeit warnings to our people and despite cases filed in court against several of these scammers, they continue to appear under different business names. They continue to operate. Ironically, people are still lining up every day to “pay in” and we are receiving more and more reports of people being scammed. The schemes may change but the underlying greed does not,” Rasco said.

The official said these investment scams lure even the most sophisticated investors, using the deceiving and alluring appeal of outsized returns or secured and guaranteed payouts ranging from 30 percent up to 400 percent per month.

“That may be appealing to people but it is shocking and very suspicious. To make this point, the “Police Paluwagan Movement” (PPM), as they called it, which shut down in March 2019, victimized many of our police officers and personnel, with  hundreds of millions to billions of pesos in losses. It is sad to admit that these are law enforcers, whom we presumed to be more prudent – to have stronger sense of caution and discretion in schemes like these. I am concerned that our people may find it more difficult to distinguish between legitimate investment schemes and these scams and financial crimes,” he added.

Rasco said that looking at these companies’ business records, most are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Based on reports, these scammers solicit millions of pesos from victims for purported investments in a variety of projects and companies.

“We, in PNP PRO12, can only do so much to protect you from being victimized by these investment scams. Yes, we in PRO12 will conduct all the law enforcement actions we know possible and all investigative techniques in our arsenal, including undercover operations, to bring those responsible to justice.  But perhaps, our best tool now to mitigate these fraudulent investment offers is getting information out to the public, yet again — to advise our people that they need to be very careful before making investments,” Rasco said.